All set for a flying start!

Sunday, December 11, 2011, 13:51

by Wilfred Sultana

Three of the 9 member states who contest the Games of the Small States of Europe (GSSE) will be represented at the 12th edition of the Malta Euromed Championship.  Monaco, San Marino and Malta, three countries with Mediterranean characteristics, will line up their youngsters to make this, their Championship to remember.

But Sergey Semenov who for the past two years has guided the Russian team in Euromed is determined not to let go his ‘grip on power’! For the Russians have won the past two editions of the Malta Championship with Nikita Ushkov who in 2009 became the youngest winner ever at the age of 11 years.

“We love coming to Malta for many reasons. Naturally we are attracted by the friendly and efficient organization, the good accommodation and food, but most of all by the excellent weather which makes sailing during winter time such a big thrill”, remarked Sergey Semenov!

This year Russia will be represented by eleven participants (3 girls and 8 boys) with the youngest sailor in the team being nine-year-old Andreev Vasily who comes from Saint-Petersburg.

“No doubt the Russians are back to win again and make it three victories in a row”, predicts a confident Semenov.

But as in all sport events winners are determined on the field of play, in this case on the water, and not by wishful predictions.

One expects an exciting and hard fought four days of sailing to determine the winners from another record entry of 130 young sailors who will be challenging for the title.

The prevailing weather during the Championship days will be a determining factor as to who will eventually win.

Edward Fleri Soler leads the Malta Optimist Class 2011 rankings after 28 races.  Edward just missed 1st place in the last two editions of the Euromed as he placed 2nd twice.  This year will be his last chance to put his name on the coveted trophy as he will turn 16 next year so as from coming January he will have to move onto the Laser class.  However unless we have strong winds on the racing days Edward, now very big in size and weight, will struggle to accomplish this feat.  Justin Busuttil, another of the local leading Optimist sailors, also prefers strong winds as he is the next in line in size after Edward.

However, should light winds prevail then sailors like Alex Esposito, Zak Zammit and Tom Bonello Gio should fare better. These ‘lightweight’ youngsters feature in 2nd, 3rd and 4th places respectively in the Malta Optimist Class 2011 rankings. Yes, the weather plays a big part in sailing, whether it is the Rolex Middle Sea Race or the Malta Euromed Championship.

When one refers to female sailors it is not ethical to discuss the issue of weight but we do wish our young girls, the like of Francesca Zammit and Rebecca Briffa, good winds and skillful sailing.

Undoubtedly, the weather is possibly also the biggest appealing factor which attracts the young northern European sailors, and their families, to the event.

“In Denmark the wind and sea are normally very rough and cold in winter.  In fact last weekend we held our training in 5 degrees temperature and in gusting 20-30 knots winds.   In this regard Malta is a paradise”, recounts Stig Bløcher the father of eleven year-old Oliver who this year will race his second Euromed.

Besides accompanying his son to race, Mr. Bløcher also travels to Malta as representative of the Danish firm Winner Optimist APS, renowned builders of the Opimist dinghy, who supply a good number of boats for Euromed. In fact while the locals provide their own dinghies, the organizers temporary import dinghies which are made available to foreign competitors who in this way could travel light for their Malta competition.

Italy will be having the biggest foreign entry with 30 Optimist sailors although Malta will be the main contingent with 37 competitors – 25 Optimist, 8 Laser 4.7 and 4 Feva’s.  Other participants will be coming from Russia (11), the United Kingdom (8), Monaco (8), Israel (6), San Marino (4), Denmark (3) and Germany (2).

The Event, to be raced in Mellieha Bay from Saturday 17th up to Tuesday 20th December, will be mainly an Optimists Class event where only sailors under the age of 16 years are eligible to contest. However older sailors will be racing in the Laser 4.7 Classes and the newly introduced RS Feva class where in both categories there will be male and female participants.

The Malta Euromed Championship is organised by the Malta Young Sailors Club with the cooperation of the Kunsill Malti għall-iSport and the Mellieħa Local Council and held under the patronage of the Malta Sailing Federation.  Mellieha Bay Hotel is the Championship’s Official Hotel while the Point Break beach club will be the event’s Headquarters.

Meanwhile, the winners of the past eleven editions were:


Year Winner Country
2000 Lisa Tait (13yrs) Ireland
2001 Ton Thorn (13yrs) Sweden
2002 Matthew Fleri Soler (14yrs) Malta
2003 Valentino Valacchi (14yrs) Italy
2004 Henrik Grim (14yrs) Sweden
2005 Okan Arin (12yrs) Turkey
2006 Thomas Zammit Tabona (12yrs) Malta
2007 Thomas Zammit Tabona (13yrs) Malta
2008 Ella Fleri Soler (15yrs) Malta
2009 Nikita Ushkov (11yrs) Russia
2010 Pavel Rasskazov (13yrs) Russia


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